Not too long ago we reported on a study on the lack of Black coaches in NCAA Division I football. And with the hiring of white coach Gene Chizik over Black coach Turner Gill as football coach at Auburn University it looks like the trend will continue. The hiring has people turning their heads because of Chizik’s win/loss record, winning only five games in two seasons at Iowa State. Gill on the other hand took control of the Buffalo Bulls, one of the worst programs in three years ago, and guided them to an 8-5 record and MAC Championship this season. Charles Barkley, who played basketball for Auburn, called out his alma mater for the Chizik hiring in an interview with ESPN.
“I think race was the No. 1 factor,” Barkley told ESPN.com. “You can say it’s not about race, but you can’t compare the two résumés and say [Chizik] deserved the job. Out of all the coaches they interviewed, Chizik probably had the worst résumé. I’m just very disappointed. I just thought Turner Gill would be the perfect choice for two reasons: He’s a terrific coach and we needed to make a splash. I thought we had to do something spectacular to bring attention to the program. Clearly, if we’d hired a black coach, it would have created a buzz.”
Auburn athletic director Jay Jacobs responded to Barkley’s comments saying, “Well, my reaction is I was picking the best fit for Auburn.”
Apparently Barkley faced a similar situation when he was on the coach search committee for Auburn’s basketball team. He told Auburn that he would serve on the committee if the university was ready to hire a Black coach. According to ESPN, Barkley presented three African-American candidates for consideration: former Indiana coach Mike Davis, then-Virginia Commonwealth coach Jeff Capel and then-UAB coach Mike Anderson. Instead, Auburn hired white coach Jeff Lebo, and Barkley was removed from the committee.
“Out of all the basketball coaches they interviewed, they picked the only one who hadn’t been to the NCAA tournament,” Barkley said.